Environment
10:50 am
Wed September 12, 2012

Big Box Stores Lead U.S. Companies in Solar Power Usage

According to a list released this morning, retail giant Walmart leads U.S. companies in solar power installations. Walmart has 144 solar systems installed in seven states; as the report notes, the combined capacity of Walmart and Costco (number two on the list) is greater than all the solar capacity deployed in the state of Florida.

According to the report, the only system in Kentucky is at the General Motors Assembly Plant in Bowling Green. But there are numerous installations on manufacturing sites in the area, in the corridor between Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus.

The New York Times has an related story about how big-box chain stores are increasingly turning to solar power to control costs.

Many of the chains began with a few installations about five years ago but have picked up the pace in recent years as the price of equipment has plummeted. The average price of a finished commercial photovoltaic system, for example, dropped by almost 14 percent between the second quarter of 2011 and the second quarter of 2012, the report said.

In addition, new financing approaches — in which third-party companies offer to install systems for little or no money upfront and instead take fixed payments for the electricity generated over a long-term agreement — has made solar even more attractive. Although the cost savings from these arrangements are not as great as for residential customers, the agreements insulate the companies against fluctuations in electricity costs, said Lyndon Rive, the chief executive of SolarCity, which provides solar products and services, and counts Walmart among its commercial customers, “When you look at renewables, there’s not a spiking of the fuel cost,” Mr. Rive said. “You’re locking your rates, which is a great hedge for a big percentage of your energy needs.”

Here's the full list of the top twenty U.S. companies ranked by solar power usage, compiled by the Solar Energy Industries Association:

  1. Walmart: 65 MW, 7 states, 144 systems
  2. Costco: 38.9 MW, 5 states, 62 systems
  3. Kohl’s: 36.5 MW, 10 states, 124 systems
  4. Ikea: 21.5 MW, 17 states, 31 systems
  5. Macy’s: 16.1 MW, 4 states, 41 systems
  6. McGraw-Hill: 14.1 MW, 1 state, 2 systems
  7. Johnson & Johnson: 11.6 MW, 2 states, 12 systems
  8. Staples: 10.8 MW, 5 states, 35 systems
  9. Campbell’s: 9.9 MW, 3 states, 3 systems
  10. Walgreen’s: 8.1 MW, 6 states, 134 systems
  11. Bed Bath & Beyond: 7.5 MW, 1 state, 4 systems
  12. Toys R Us: 5.7 MW, 1 state, 4 systems
  13. GM: 5.6 MW, 5 states, 13 systems
  14. FedEx: 4.9 MW, 2 states, 5 systems
  15. White Rose Food: 4.9 MW, 1 state, 1 system
  16. Dow Jones: 4.1 MW, 1 state, 1 system
  17. Snyder’s of Hanover: 3.5 MW, 1 state, 1 system
  18. Prologis: 3.5 MW, 1 state, 10 systems
  19. Hartz Mountain Industries: 3.4 MW, 1 state, 5 systems
  20. Crayola: 3.4 MW, 1 state, 1 system